Rural-Urban Disparities in Receipt of Surgery for Potentially Resectable Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

J Surg Res. 2023 Mar;283:1053-1063. doi: 10.1016/j.jss.2022.10.097. Epub 2022 Dec 14.


Introduction: Access to cancer care, especially surgery, is limited in rural areas. However, the specific reasons rural patient populations do not receive surgery for non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) is unknown. We investigated geographic disparities in reasons for failure to receive guideline-indicated surgical treatment for patients with potentially resectable NSCLC.

Methods: The National Cancer Database was used to identify patients with clinical stage I-IIIA (N0-N1) NSCLC between 2004 and 2018. Patients from rural areas were compared to urban areas, and the reason for nonreceipt of surgery was evaluated. Adjusted odds of (1) primary nonsurgical management, (2) surgery being deemed contraindicated due to risk, (3) surgery being recommended but not performed, and (4) overall failure to receive surgery were determined.

Results: The study included 324,785 patients with NSCLC with 42,361 (13.0%) from rural areas. Overall, 62.4% of patients from urban areas and 58.8% of patients from rural areas underwent surgery (P < 0.001). Patients from rural areas had increased odds of (1) being recommended primary nonsurgical management (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 1.14, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.05-1.23), (2) surgery being deemed contraindicated due to risk (aOR: 1.19, 95% CI: 1.07-1.33), (3) surgery being recommended but not performed (aOR: 1.13, 95% CI: 1.01-1.26), and (4) overall failure to receive surgery (aOR: 1.21, 95% CI: 1.13-1.29; all P < 0.001).

Conclusions: There are geographic disparities in the management of NSCLC. Rural patient populations are more likely to fail to undergo surgery for potentially resectable disease for every reason examined.

Keywords: Adult; Database; Lung cancer surgery; Non–small cell lung cancer; Rural disparities; Surgical outcomes; Thoracic surgery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Non-Small-Cell Lung* / surgery
  • Healthcare Disparities
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms* / surgery
  • Rural Population